Health bosses have praised a new scheme to free up much-needed beds and ease the strain on the A&E department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Fylde coast physiotherapist Kayleigh Clitheroe, who works at Spiral Health’s Bispham and Rossall Hospitals, came up with an idea to tackle the “bed-blocking”.
By sending patients home five days early, and offering to rehabilitate them in the community, the 28-year-old’s idea is freeing up 15 beds a night – at a potential saving to the taxpayer of around £300,000 a year.
Spiral Health chief executive Tracey Bush said: “We had a team discussion about how we could help the Vic free up bed space and Kayleigh suggested a therapy at home service. It has been relatively simple to set up.
“We haven’t had to increase staffing much or change policy or process.
“As well as saving bed nights, we are saving the NHS money. Our Easter pilot saved the NHS £20,000 – potentially £300,000 if the service was run for a full year.”
The scheme, which was trialled with 13 patients last year, has now been extended for six months by bosses at the Vic. Many patients getting rehabilitation treatment at Bispham and Rossall have come from acute wards at the Vic.
By sending them home early, bosses are able to free up space for other patients waiting to be transferred, unblocking beds all the way back to A&E.
So-called “bed blocking” – when patients medically fit to be discharged have nowhere else to go – is one of the main reasons hospitals have struggled to cope with demand this winter.
Ms Clitheroe said: “One of the great advantages of the service is that you get to practise scenarios that patients may find difficult in the actual home.
“For example, a patient may say they have trouble getting into their shower, so you can practise with them. Your treatment can focus on the areas that are worrying them.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden has also raised concerns over high demand at the Vic.
Mr Marsden, who is supporting the “Think! Why A&E?” campaign urging people to seek early advice from their pharmacist as a potential alternative to visiting A&E, said: “A&E departments across the country, including Blackpool, are under big pressures at the moment.
“Local pharmacists and our walk-in centre on Whitegate Drive are alternatives that people can contact for advice on minor ailments.”